ROBGO.ORG

April 8, 2014

I was as surprised as the next person to hear today that Fred Destin was going to be leaving Atlas to return home to the UK with his family. I’m sure it was a tough decision, but one I can understand given someone who has lived abroad for most of his life.

Even though Fred was always obviously not a local Boston-guy, he had a tremendous impact on the tech community here that will be sorely missed. In particular, there are a couple things I’ve admired that I hope “sticks” even while he relocates across the Atlantic.

1. Fred did a really great job re-calibrating the local ecosystem around taking big swings. He looked at large scale, extremely fast growing, network businesses and said “why can’t those be built here?”. He also appreciated the fact that often, the most disruptive companies look like “toys” in the beginning, and that some of the best companies focus on growth and scale while being patient that revenue and profitability will come when the “technology leverage kicks in”.  It’s counter-cultural here, and I appreciated his willingness to push for this loudly, even in the face of occasional criticism.

2. Fred has also been the model of someone who is vocal, engaged, and genuinely excited about the local tech eco-system in Boston. Yes, it’s by definition self-serving as an investor, but Fred has been more active than most, and I think genuinely excited to help this area become more attractive and friendly towards entrepreneurs. I’ve also always appreciated the way Fred has been very quick to openly express his admiration for companies and founders outside of the Atlas portfolio. Most VC’s (myself included) have a hard time not saying snarky remarks of companies that they are not involved with. It’s harder to be positive and constructive, which is what I’ve found Fred to be in nearly all of my interactions with him.

It’s too bad to see him go. But I think Fred will leave a positive mark, and I think some of these cultural norms have some staying power and will make this eco-system better even in the months ahead. Thanks Fred!

  • http://www.freddestin.com Fred Destin

    Thank you Rob. Boston was a great surprise and a better ecosystem and community than I could ever imagine.

  • http://www.custommade.com Seth Rosen

    Well said, Rob. As you know, Fred is on @CustomMade’s Board. Mike and I met with him early this morning before the announcement, and it became immediately obvious that his departure will leave some incredibly big shoes to fill. I can’t remember the last time I commented publicly on a VC, but I really do think this departure is a huge loss for Boston, and a big loss for CustomMade.

    On a professional level, especially when it comes to scaling two-sided networks, Fred is as good as anyone I’ve seen anywhere in the United States (and after five years, I’m convinced I’ve met with most everyone at least twice). As a Board member, he focuses on sh*t that matters, and he helps his founders and management teams do the same. As a venture investor, he fundamentally understands and deeply appreciates that a venture investment is simply about backing and empowering great teams of people, and helping them navigate the bumpy road to success. As a person, he is governed in all of his inter-personal relationships by a deep sense of honor and fair play.

    Life is long, and I’ll be looking for an excuse to do business with him again some day. Until then….

    • robchogo

      yes indeed. Thanks for sharing the direct thoughts here Seth

    • http://www.freddestin.com Fred Destin

      Not sure I deserve that much praise but thanks a million. It’s been real.

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